What Questions Are You Really Asking?
By ANN Correspondent John Ballantyne
It is a prominent tent in the main area marked "EAA Members
Square." On one corner, folks are sitting in folding chairs,
watching an EAA video explaining Sport Pilot. FAA
Administrator Marion Blakey and EAA President Tom Poberezny
describe the hows and whys regarding the recently approved FAA rule
mandating Light Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilots.
On another corner, there's a free-standing display with
specifics on various parts of the Sport Pilot program such as "what
if you are a private pilot?," or, "How do I get my ultralight
trainer ccrtificated?," or... well, you get the picture.
At the center of the exhibit is a circular counter with teams of
FAA and EAA folks running the show. They're answering
individual questions about Sport Pilot.
What questions are they most often asked? ANN eavesdropped
on the discussions and here is what we found.
Group 1-The Old Guys
"What about the medical requirements, exactly?" they often
started. Or they might say, "In my particular case…" then
began a stream-of-conscious monologue aimed at the FAA/EAA resource
"If my medical wasn't formally denied, then may I operate as a
sport pilot on my driver's license?"
"Well, actually, that chest problem from years ago really hasn't
left me feeling that I could pass a medical if I tried today."
"And the nearest Medical Examiner is at least 150 miles from
where I live...."
"If I failed, could the Examiner just tear up the
"But I do have a current driver's license…"
Again, you get the picture.
Group 2 - The Young Guys
"How much will it cost?"
"In my particular case…" Then, typically, the stream-of
conscious-dialogue begins again.
"If the plane is a powered parachute and manufactured by the
factory, in 2005, can it become a 'Special' Light Sport
"Well, actually, should I try to get it an amateur-built
experimental certificate because otherwise I'd have to take classes
to be qualified to maintain it, right?"
And so on and so on. You get the idea.
Group 3 - Women
No questions. In fact, no women. Why are so few women
involved in sport aviation? Not one woman asked question during the
two hours we listened in.
You have to admire the staff members and volunteers who braved
the sometimes acrimonious questns in hours of grueling, complicated
questions that begged for simple answers. Theirs was a valiant
FAA Sport Pilot Team Manager, Sue Gardner, knows all about the
confusion. She said the FAA has made the answers easier to
get. In fact, she steered us toward the nearby FAA Forum
building where FAA will reveal more user-friendly descriptions of
Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft as the week wears on.
If you are on-field at EAA AirVenture, stop by and listen.
Otherwise your trusty ANN reporters will be all over it and have a
story to you while the words are still hanging in the air.